Tributes pour in for Nilton Santos

Tributes have flowed in for Brazil’s two-time World Cup winner Nilton Santos, who died in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday at the age of 88.

The former Botafogo and Barzil left-back died of complications from a lung infection. He was also suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“He was loved as much as [Mane] Garrincha and respected like Pele,” Botafogo said on its official website.

Brazil legend Ronaldo expressed his sadness on Twitter.

“Nilton Santos is one of the most important figures in the history of Brazilian football,” Ronaldo said. “He is going to be greatly missed.”

Former Brazil and Flamengo great Zico also paid tribute.

“What sad news,” he said. “Nilton Santos will be a great loss in football and in life. Rest in peace.”

Regarded by many as the best left back to have played the game, he pioneered the overlapping full-back role which we now take for granted in modern football.

Santos represented Brazil 75 times, featuring in the 1958 and 1962 World Cup-winning teams. He was renowned for his adventurous attacking runs and in many ways was the architect of the modern wing back position.

Nílton Santos is a member of the World Team of the 20th Century, and was named by Pelé one of the top 125 greatest living footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004.

Brazilians also referred to him as the Encyclopedia of Football due to his deep knowledge of the game.